UN Conferences and Summits
The international conferences
and summits convened by the United Nations generate
intense mobilization around issues of global interest.
On the current agenda are two major gatherings, one
about sustainable development, the other about the
These meetings, which draw diverse
participants ranging from activists of non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) to heads of state, reached a
peak in the 1990s, but continue in the 21st century:
at the end of August 2002 begins the World
Summit on Sustainable Development, in Johannesburg,
and slated for 2003 is the World
Summit on the Information Society.
The UN, which informs the world
about some of these gatherings on its web site "conferences
and events", defends the importance of such
conferences for their capacity to bring attention
to crucial socio-economic issues, guide national policies,
generate debate and the search for consensus on global
issues, and to establish goals that governments commit
themselves to achieving.
The main criticisms about these
events are based precisely on the fact that often
the promises go ignored, and the scant number of commitments
made at the outset.
These conferences have their
own customs: they are preceded by a preparatory process
to establish some level of consensus among governments.
The process includes the active participation of NGOs,
the presentation of an enormous number of documents
and intense logistical efforts to handle the thousands
of participants. In the end, the governments sign
political declarations and plans of action.
In 1990, the importance of these
meetings came to light with the World
Summit for Children, in which 71 heads of state
participated, an unprecedented number, until the 1992
Summit, in Rio de Janeiro, which drew 108 national
leaders and delegations from 170 countries.
The achievements made since the
1992 Earth Summit will be studied at the World Summit
on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio+10.
A decade on, the degree of government compliance with
the commitments made is not very encouraging.
But there are those who put a
positive spin on it: the Rio Summit 10 years ago laid
out a concept that since then has permeated the international
debates on the future of our society, about sustainable
development. In reality, the greatest doubts surround
the results of the Rio+10 Summit itself, because the
preparatory process did not produce the expected consensus.
The Internet holds information
bout these and other conferences, including lists
that give an idea of the events organized in recent
years, and summaries about their outcomes.
Nations: Conferences and Events
Summit on Sustainable Development
World Summit on
the Information Society
Dengue has become a health problem
for tropical areas of Latin America over the last
several decades. But this disease, cause by four types
of virus transmitted by a mosquito, has been known
The viruses -- with the scientific
labels DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3 and DEN-4 -- can cause
different manifestations of dengue, the most serious
form being hemorrhagic dengue, which can be mortal.
The Pan-American Health Organization
(PAHO) has deployed intense operations to aid countries
in their battles against the epidemic. On the Internet
is a website that serves as the PAHO's
center of operations, providing information about
the traits of the disease and its presence in the
According to the history
of dengue in the Americas included on the PAHO
site, the disease is believed to have first appeared
in 1635 on Martinique and Guadalupe. In the 18th century,
dengue epidemics were recorded in the United States,
Asia and Africa, and later in Peru.
The resurgence of dengue in recent
times, which has hit Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil,
and more recently El Salvador and Honduras, is directly
related to the proliferation of the virus's
vector of transmission, the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
This mosquito species is at home
in the urban environment and its presence is reinforced
by phenomena like the growth of metropolitan areas
and the deterioration of sanitary conditions. The
campaigns against dengue are focused on eradication
of the Aedes aegypti.
According to figures from the
Health Organization (WHO), the scope of dengue
infection has risen dramatically in recent decades
and is now an endemic disease in more than 100 countries,
endangering some 2.5 billion people.
The Internet holds abundant information
about dengue, such as websites with frequently
asked questions, explanations about symptoms and treatment,
and even lists of health experts dedicated to combating
Health Organization (PAHO): Dengue
History of Dengue in the Americas
Health Organization: Dengue
Centers for Disease Control
view of dengue virus
A Cup of Tea
Tea is a plant of Chinese origin
which gave rise to the most widely consumed beverage
in the world, from the far East to Latin America.
It was first consumed by human beings nearly 5,000
Descriptions of the history of
tea found on the Internet cite the legend of Chinese
Emperor Shen Nung, an herbalist who discovered tea
by chance one day as he sat under a wild tea tree,
leaves from the tree fell into a pot of boiling water,
and he decided to try the brew.
China is considered the birthplace
origin of tea or "cha", which was spread
throughout Asia, and later the world, by merchants
According to a website that provides
answers to frequently
asked questions about tea, there are 3,000 varieties
today, although true tea is always brewed from the
leaves of Camellia sinensis, the scientific name for
There are three basic types of
tea, depending on the degree of fermentation of the
leaves: green, black and oolong. Most of the tea consumed
in the West is black.
Many varieties of tea are known
by their place of origin, and tea-lovers are familiar
with their specific flavors, aromas and characteristics.
The widespread consumption of
tea has led to the cultivation of the plants across
the world. More than 35
nations in Asia, Africa, the Americas and Oceania
are listed as tea producers on a website that reports
their share of the competitive global market, which
has given rise to institutions like the tea
council that links a number of the main exporters.
- home page
in the world
world of tea
asked questions about tea
Mangroves populate the coasts
of many tropical and subtropical areas of the world,
serving as the backbone of an ecosystem that sustains
a great wealth of biodiversity. However, their future
is threatened by deforestation and the degradation
of their habitat.
Mangrove forests grow in areas
where there is abundant water, a mix of fresh and
sea water, an ecosystem
of marshes or swamps.
According to one Internet site
explaining the taxonomy
of this unique tree, there are some 100 species within
the mangrove family, all of which are vascular plants.
Resistant to salinity, mangroves
grow in coastal areas, such as estuaries, and their
wood is highly prized. They normally have extensive
roots, some of which extend from the trunk and are
partially exposed to the air and partially submerged
in its watery environs.
These trees produce nutrients
that allow a great variety of air, land and aquatic
life forms to flourish. The loss of the ecosystem
they create means a reduction in biodiversity, coastal
erosion, and poor water quality, according to organizations
that promote mangrove conservation and sustainable
Some of these groups are leading
intensive campaigns to save the mangrove, such as
Action Plan, which reports that there was a time
when three-quarters of the world's tropical and subtropical
coasts were populated by these trees. Today, just
a portion of that area remains, and at least half
is threatened with destruction.
According to the United Nations
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),
mangrove forests cover a total of 181,000 square km
in different parts of the world.
Art by Kids
and rainforests: Mangroves
Information on Mangroves